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Community Rallies Around Pregnant Orthodox Designer Whose Husband Died Tragically

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You may have heard of The Frock before. It’s a modest clothing company run by an extremely stylish duo, Orthodox Jewish designers Chaya Chanin and Simi Polonsky — both of whom hail from Australia and now live in New York City.

Sadly, Simi recently experienced a devastating tragedy: Her husband, Shua, died from “a life-threatening condition” on November 9 at age 31. It seems his illness was something he contracted only weeks before he died.

Simi and Shua parented their two young children together (and Simi is now pregnant with the couple’s third child). And because of his sudden loss, Simi and her family set up an online charity to help her with the parenting and medical expenses; the campaign will be live through December 1. So far, more than $1 million has been raised.

Apparently Shua only just completed his Ph.D. in psychology from Long Island University three weeks before his death.

This kind of grief is truly unimaginable. Simi went to the brand’s Instagram and wrote a heartbreaking note:

There are moments when I feel numb, moments when I feel like I can’t go on, and moments when I just don’t want to go on. The thought of a life without my best friend and soul mate, without date night, without “Daddy” is unbearable. But then I am surrounded by love. Love for my children, love from my family, love from my friends, love from you and love from the world. Love from others who have loved and lost, and who are rebuilding. So I know I have to rebuild. When my paternal grandfather was 15, he watched the Germans take his parents, brothers and sisters to their death. As he watched his entire family, walk into cattle cars,he could have given up. But here I am today. When my maternal grandfather was 6 he buried his mother in the snow, somewhere in Siberia. Until this day he has not found where she was buried. He could have given up. But here I am today. My life does feel like it has been hit by my own personal holocaust. But what I do know is that I carry with me a legacy of strength, courage and the ability to rebuild from even the darkest valley’s of death, whether I am able to accept it right now or not. So I will. A woman at the end of the week of Shiva came over to me and left me with this story: When Moses was fighting the war of Amalek, he would raise his hands to pray to G-d for his people’s victory. When his arms were raised, the Jewish Nation was victorious, but there were times when he was just not able to keep them raised and so the nation fell with his hands. Yehoshua, the prophet came to his aid and placed rocks under his arms, so that Moses could keep them raised. Yehoshua helped support Moses, when alone, when he was not able. I know no one will be able to heal my broken heart, but at the times when I feel like I just cannot keep my arms raised any longer, your love and support are the rocks that hold them for me. My mind boggles, when I think about the unstoppable love that ushers unto my family on a minute to minute basis. I am pained, and I am humbled. And I will place one foot in front of the other. For my children, and for myself. But most of all, for my Shua. The flame may be minimal now, but it will burn forever.

A post shared by Chaya & Simi (@thefrocknyc) on

Even in her moment of loss, however, it seems Simi has been able to see beyond the pain:

There are moments when I feel numb, moments when I feel like I can’t go on, are moments when I just don’t want to go on. The thought of a life without my best friend and soul mate, without date night, without “Daddy” is unbearable. But then I am surrounded by love. Love for my children, love from my family, love from my friends, love from you and love from the world. Love from others who have loved and lost, and who are rebuilding. So I know I have to rebuild.

She explains how her own grandparents dealt with death in their own lives, drawing strength from them:

When my paternal grandfather was 15, he watched the Germans take his parents, brothers and sisters to their death. As he watched his entire family, walk into cattle cars,he could have given up. But here I am today.

When my maternal grandfather was 6 he buried his mother in the snow, somewhere in Siberia. Until this day he has not found where she was buried. He could have given up. But here I am today.

What I do know is that I carry with me a legacy of strength, courage and the ability to rebuild from even the darkest valley’s of death, whether I am able to accept it right now or not. So I will.

She ends the note beautifully:

I know no one will be able to heal my broken heart, but at the times when I feel like I just cannot keep my arms raised any longer, your love and support are the rocks that hold them for me. My mind boggles, when I think about the unstoppable love that ushers unto my family on a minute to minute basis. I am pained, and I am humbled. And I will place one foot in front of the other. For my children, and for myself.

But most of all, for my Shua. The flame may be minimal now, but it will burn forever.

Here are more powerful posts from Instagram:

I am not one for writing, that has been Simi’s role over the last couple of years in our business. I was mostly the face of the stories, the hands behind the images. But unfortunately today, I need to express a few words. Never in my entire life have I been put in a situation as I have been in these last four weeks. Simi recently said ‘From my innermost being I am pained’, I can say never have I been so filled with fear and terror from the depths of my raw heart. Pained by the loss of my brother (in law) whom I loved so much, and pained for Simi who has lost her soulmate. Never have I met a union of two such people, never have I seen love and dedication and connection in such a way. I am forever in awe of what they had, and will always gain strength from them. It is difficult for me to ask for help from others, I struggle with the vulnerability that it brings, and I struggle with receiving. But I have learned through many various experiences and especially in the hospital with Simi and Shua, that there is nothing more special than receiving graciously. I have never felt more connected to every single one of you, my dear followers. It was YOU who gave us strength, YOU who messaged, called, visited, shared, storied, posted, and prayed. It was the outpouring of love and entreaties to stay strong for Shua, to Pray for Shua, and to change Gd’s plans that has blown our minds and shaken up the entire world. With all that, I am asking you to help Simi and her gorgeous Emanuella and Tsofia. A little can go a long long way. If you can give a little, it will mean the world, and I know that we will receive graciously and humbly. One by one we are helping take care of Simi in the way that we can. #shuastrong www.charidy.com/shuastrong

A post shared by Chaya & Simi (@thefrocknyc) on

DON’T LET THE LIGHT GO OUT, IT’S LASTED FOR SO MANY YEARS. The past four weeks have left a burn so deep within me, I can feel it in every cell of my body, down to the innermost depths of my soul. A burn that will remain imprinted on my heart and become a part of who I am forever. On the first night of Shiva, the first week of the Jewish mourning period, a woman came over to me and said that everyone who comes to pay their respects will leave a message that will help you move forward, a hug Shua is sending to remind you to put one foot in front of the other. I’ve done a lot of reflecting these past few days. I keep meditating on what the souls mission is on this world. I keep telling myself that G-d didn’t put Shua into my life, into this world, to then steal him away from me, long before his time. Before Shua was born, when his Neshama was in heaven, the angels must have fought hard over his soul. Many of them no doubt argued that he is too pure to come down to this lowly world as it will tarnish his soul. The others claimed that his soul was so strong and powerful; the world needed its light to nurture and thrive. I believe G-d made a compromise. He gave Shua 31 years, a beautiful marriage, 2 beautiful girls, and a baby on the way. On the first night when Shua went to the hospital, the Dr’s gave us the scariest report. They used lots of statistics and Shua’s rate of survival was not the most hopeful. Shua needed to be transferred and they said it would be a miracle if he made it from the ER room in Brooklyn, to the hospital in Manhatten, alive. As I sat in the front of the ambulance, peering back to my husband, I just knew there were three angels holding the ambulance, guiding Yehoshua safely to the destination. But I had faith, and Shua fought hard. He made it to the hospital alive. Over the next few days and first week we were in the hospital with Shua, the onslaught of grim reports didn’t stop. But we didn’t stop believing; you didn’t stop praying, dancing and singing because you too believed. Shua fought harder and gave us an extra three weeks.

A post shared by Chaya & Simi (@thefrocknyc) on

The nurses keep saying how Shua has changed their lives forever. The light, the love and positivity they felt over his bed was palpable. They said as nurses they NEVER give out their numbers, NEVER attend their patients funerals, NEVER go to Shiva houses and NEVER text spouses to check in on them after their loved one has passed. Their job is surrounded by giving life, but often also accompanied by losing life at the same time. Hence, they distance themselves. But it was different this time. Shua was different. They felt a force pulling them in, their desire to be around Shua, his family and the unshakable and unwavering prayers and good deeds and positive energy of the world was magnetic. Their entire unit has changed forever. Dr’s don’t believe in miracles. Only numbers, statistics and facts. But today, after meeting with the Dr’s for reasons I don’t know exactly why I needed to go, they said it clearly: Medically, Shua should not have made it past the first night. The only fathomable reason they said he did was because of his fight, that was fueled by our fight, a tsunami of light, positivity and prayer that kept his body going, despite all odds. The light was so strong inside him, that it spread throughout the world. Yet his body was not able to contain it, and he had ‘Shviras Hakelim’, ‘breaking of the vessels’ in the strongest spiritual and physical sense. While Shua was sick, I would say to Hashem, “If not for me and my children, do it for the hope of humanity and the world”. Let me make this clear: NOTHING WAS IN VAIN. Every prayer, every good deed, every positive thought, sent Shua soaring on an eagle of light and love to the highest gates of Heaven. Anyone standing around his bedside knew that the three angels that escorted Shua to the hospital were there fighting with us for three weeks. While there is a gaping hole in my heart so deep that will be there forever, Shua has left me with a light so strong that sometimes I feel like he has stepped inside my body, giving me breath, so I can breathe. Light doesn’t need a full heart to be spread, just a flame, and then it can ignite infinite amounts of candles, so long as the source doesn’t get extinguished.

A post shared by Chaya & Simi (@thefrocknyc) on

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